As I process photos from my last trip to NARA II
, I reflect about what we in the current times value versus what the sailors of the ships I study would have valued.
Above is a Neptune party on CVE-84 Shamrock Bay in December of 1944. The Royal Baby shares his milk with a polliwog during initiation. The only structure of the ship visible is a short section of planking and tie-down strips. This is the sort of photo sailors of the ship would love, to bring back memories of the party itself, maybe see a couple of familiar faces back when they were younger. Today we mainly look for photos of the ships themselves to discern details or because we find the ships themselves fascinating.
I like to scan in both. A ship is nothing without her crew, and it humanizes the ship, I feel, to have photos of the sailors that brought her to life. But it's not what most authors want these days.